A strange food acid peculiar to artichokes. It has an unusual effect on the taste buds, making everything taste sweet for a short time (for most people). It's been said this makes it hard to pair with a wine.

There are other health-related effects claimed for cynarin, but I am not familiar with them.

My Auntie Beth gave my three artichoke seedlings. I live in New Jersey, the Garden State. It never occurred to me that artichokes might grow here.

Everybody should have an Auntie Beth.

Today I moved two of the three artichoke plants. Once again June overwhelmed my imagination--I planted the chokes in a safe spot, which is now overrun with grapes and cosmos and honeysuckle and hops. I cleared out some snowpeas, thriving despite the July sun. Barely more than seedlings, already moved two times too many, I am charged with overseeing a couple of plants with remarkable effects. I lost the third already.

Usufruct.

It is a Biblical word, and a useful one for people who take a few things on faith. I thought about the word when I was munching on the snowpeas still on the vine. I have a very small garden, and the snowpeas were supposed to be done by now. Except they weren't. I pulled them out anyway. Not sure dominion over the land included yanking out snowpeas a week or two early.

The First Couple got tossed out of the Garden of Eden for eating from the Tree of Knowledge. At some point in human history, we figured out how to cultivate, and in this part of the world, a huge chunk of our calories (including ethanol) comes from grains. We race towards idiocy as though that might get us back into the Garden. As I transplanted my tiny artichokes (which now look a bit like thistles), I thought of the cynarin inside of them. I love artichokes, even before all this nonsense about seeking health through plants. (Not nonsense because it's not true, but nonsense because we've become so separated from what we are that we think we can get a handle on Creation. Cynarin. A commodity. A protector of coronary arteries. A bile purger. Something useful.)

Hubris.

A bit over a week ago, I spent a late evening watching the moon rise over the Atlantic, drinking some decent whisky, smoking a decent cigar, and interrupting a decent silence with a few words among a few decent men, marveling at our greyness, our wrinkles, but mostly at just being here at all. A friend of ours is ill. We have each lost people we did not think possible, and yet here was the red moon rising.

The whisky still tastes good, we still laugh, and at least we can still piss into the ocean with something of an arc. Should we live long enough, we will dribble into the same ocean a few decades from now. Cynarin will help us get there.




The Greeks and the Romans used artichokes to help digestion. Before modern medicine, artichokes were thought to help clean out the liver and the gall bladder. Modern folks determined it was the cynarin in the plant, and elaborate techniques extracted the specific component from the plant.

Turns out, however, that multiple substances with stylized scientific names work together to help protect the liver.

caffeeolyquinic acid
luteolin

scolymoside
cynaroside

chlorogenic acid
caffeic acid

You can buy the extract. You're better off just eating some artichoke*.


*Please do not take this as medical advice. I have worked hard to become a school teacher, and will be soon. This is not about medicine, it is about health. There's a world of difference between the two.

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